A new, unexpected round of nerfs are coming in. While shake-ups to the meta are usually welcome, the most recent changes revealed a controversial trend. Blizzard is explicitly targeting class cards that it deems to be too persistent over too long a period of time. But is this the the right way forward? What problems could arise from pushing Classic Class cards away from viability?
Fewer viable classic cards means fewer classic cards in viable decks. This inevitably drives up the cost of maintaining a collection for long term players. For instance, Equality now costs 4, up from 2. This means it’s a lot harder to clear boards as Paladin of course, but it also means Paladin must go elsewhere for its clears. Shrink Ray begins to look a lot more attractive in comparison for instance
This means that Paladins need to add a new Rare to their deck, rather than an old one. If this happens repeatedly, it means that Paladins will continually need new cards, likely to be Epic and Rare. Ultimately, deckbuilding will inevitably get more expensive for long term players. This is good news for Blizzard, but less fantastic for those who don’t have hundreds of dollars to drop on internet cards.
Another issue in nerfing core Classic Class cards is the dilution of class identity. Cards like Cold Blood and Flametongue Totem defined Shaman and Rogue’s Classic potential. Without them as a strong core, a little bit of their identity is lost. Warrior already showed how class identity can suffer when a key Classic support is nerfed. Without War Axe the class now seems confused, jumping from archetype to archetype without settling on anything that feels especially ‘Warrior-ey’.
Such a fate may befall more classes that lose their powerful Classic backing. When Classic becomes weak, we do see more diversity, but thematic consistency and playstyles are lost as multitudes of cards rotate in and out. It will become hard to maintain consistent class identity without as many baseline Classic cards holding everything together.
The Rotation Issue
Aside from these abstract, long term concerns, there are some more immediate concerns. Many of the classes affected by the changes (like Rogue, Shaman and Hunter) are those that are most at risk from the rotation. Hunter in particular seems like it could tumble precipitously, as Hunter’s Mark would have been one of its last efficient early-mid game removals.
But Shaman looks to be in trouble too, as Even Shaman lives and dies on its two drops, with Flametongue arguably being the best after Murkspark Eel. Meanwhile, Rogue was relying on Odd to carry it without the likes of Quest, Kingsbane and Vilespine slayer, but the Cold Blood nerf may threaten that.
Right Attitude, Wrong Scope?
The consistent power of standard does need to be addressed. However, by only doing targeted nerfs and not a more holistic overhaul, Blizzard may be taking the wrong approach. Rather than mixing things up with a Kibler-suggested rotating Classic set, we may see it dwindle into obscurity under the weight of years of continual nerfs.
While a powerful Classic set creates problems, we can’t ignore the benefits it brings. It anchors identity, lowers costs and prevents wild swings in power levels. Hopefully more positive changes are coming to Classic soon.
Images courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment via hearthstone.gamepedia.com.
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